We had plans for a few weeks to go camping on Thursday night (the Easter holiday here is Good Friday through Easter Monday). On Wednesday, we confirmed the forecast and alllmost canceled our plans: it was going to be "feels like" -9C during the night. We decided to go ahead and attempt the camping trip, not least because the kids would have been devastated to miss it.
It turned out that it was extremely cold, but we did it!
The venue was a national park about half an hour outside Turku. It's one of our favorite hiking spots. Last week, Jeremy and Magdalena scouted out a few laavu - open-sided lean-tos that are found in forests in Finland. They are free to camp in, though courtesy dictates that if you've already been there a night and someone else shows up the next day, you're supposed to move on. Some (most?) laavu are equipped with a fire pit and firewood.
We drank hot chocolate and ate dinner and made smores as a light snow fell. The kids ran around the forest, exploring. Meanwhile, Jeremy set up the laavu with our sleeping gear: tarp, sleeping pads, feather blanket, sleeping bags, blankets, and another tarp on top.
I was wearing tights, wool socks, long underwear (top and bottom), pants, another shirt, a hoodie, and a winter coat. And as we settled in for the night...I was still cold. You know how usually when you go camping, you sleep restlessly because you're mostly uncomfortable? Well, I only changed positions twice during the whole night. I was impervious to discomfort because I was just. so. cold. Jeremy gave me his wool socks, sleeping bag liner, and rain pants to put on, and I was still not quite warm. Sometime around 3.30 in the morning, I remember being warm for about thirty minutes.
I have to believe this was at least partly psychological. I mean, it was -4C but on paper, it seems that I was wearing plenty of clothes. I should have been warm! But my brain seemed to latch on to the fact that I was far away from any source of heat and not let me forget it. My sleeping bag is rated 0C, but as Jeremy pointed out in the morning, maybe that means something more like "will stave off death by hypothermia for up to 12 hours" rather than actually keeping you 100% warm.
Jeremy got up before me to make a fire. I felt like a grand lady in a book set in the 19th century, waking up gradually to the sound of logs cracking and popping. It was the singlemost comfy thing I have ever experienced.
The important thing is that the kids were warm, and that we made it through the night. We hope to go camping in a laavu again in a few weeks or months, when the temperatures are a bit warmer!